The creation of a homophobic Bible.
In 382 of our era was released one of the most influential books in the history of humanity. A compendium of jewish and christian sacred texts, duly reviewed and approved by the Roman Curia. The bible, the biblical canon or the vulgate. From this moment the word of the christian god was one and, they always told us so, it clearly said that this god did not love homosexuals. Or this has been led to believe.
To find a sentence to a “homosexual” person in the holy scriptures, first thing we should do is get a bible edited from 1946, and more particularly, some protestant bibles that came out after the publication of the Revised Standard Version. If not, as much as you search, you can not find any mention of homosexuals, either the Old or New Testament, because the term homosexual and the associated concept, born in the late nineteenth century.
You will surely find at other versions is the word sodomite, a term that usually refers to those who practice sodomy. With this recent change, from sodomite to homosexual, was passed from condemning a particular act of a particular person, to condemn an individual, or millions of them, for the simple fact of being or feel homosexual. God, according to some, not only hates the sin but also the sinner. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
At this point and ignoring the small “error” of translation, many will think, based on what the bible says that god does not like the sodomites, but is that true?
I Survived Sodom (The meanings of sodomite).
To find the answer we must go back a few centuries, and say centuries, not millenniums, because in the same way that to find a sentence to a “homosexual” person we have to read a post-50s bible, to find a biblical censorship to the sodomites we have to use a text translated from the Middle Ages and more specifically after the eleventh century, since up to this date, a sodomite was just an inhabitant of Sodom, and of those, god (or physical) had taken care of do not leave one alive a couple of millennium ago.
Non reproductive sex
Moreover it is curious that, even when the meaning is changed, the word sodomite does not pass to appoint directly to men who have sex with other men, but anyone who has any type of sexual activity that was not specifically aimed at procreation, either masturbation, heterosexual coitus interruptus, oral sex, intercrural sex (between the thighs) or any position other than the man on top and woman below, because at that time it was believed that another position reduced the chances of procreation, and of course, the reviled and feared anal intercourse. Only several centuries later would be used to exclusively designate sex between men acts.
Abusing instead knowing
But how you go from being an inhabitant of Sodom to be a homosexual pervert? Well, again making a linguistic interpretation, in this case of the Hebrew verb ידע(yada), which literally means to know, and although sometimes has a sexual connotation (virgin knew no man), in this case was translated as abuse or rape.
Let us take two different translations of Genesis 19.5
“They called out to Lot and asked, “Where are the men who came to visit you tonight? Bring them out to us so we can have sex [ ידע( yada)] with them!” (International Standard Version)
Not homophobic version
“And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Whereare the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we know [ידע( yada)] them..” (King James Bible)
Without going into linguistic or historical disquisitions about the customs of the Semitic peoples, what is clear is that the devil remains in the details again, and that the role of the translator in the scriptures is essential.
After converting the inhabitants of Sodom in faggots, the word sodomite replaced quickly in the translations, several Hebrew and Greek terms used so far, in particular, in the Old Testament, it was replaced the Hebrew word קָדֵשׁ (Kadesh) resulting texts like …
D 23,17:“There shall be no prostitute of the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a sodomite [קָדֵשׁ (qadésh)] of the sons of Israel.” (American Standard Version)
1R 14, 24:“and there were also sodomites [קָדֵשׁ (qadésh)] in the land: they did according to all the abominations of the nations which Jehovah drove out before the children of Israel.” (American Standard Version)
1R 15, 12: “And he put away the sodomites [קָדֵשׁ (qadésh)] out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made”. (World English Bible)
1R 22, 47:“And the remnant of the sodomites [קָדֵשׁ (qadésh)], which remained in the days of his father Asa, he put away out of the land.”. (English Revised Version)
2Re 23, 7:“And he brake down the houses of the sodomites [קָדֵשׁ (qadésh)] that were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah.” (English Revised Version)
Job 36, 14:“Their soul shall die in a storm, and their life among the effeminate [קָדֵשׁ (qadésh)]“. (Douay-Rheims Bible)
But what really means קָדֵשׁ (qadesh)?
Literally and although it is surprising and even ironic, קָדֵשׁ (qadésh) means “the sacred”, although the most correct interpretation of the term and used in translations of the Torah is the word of Greek origin, hierodule. That is, the slaves dedicated to the cult of pagan gods and sometimes offered as ritual prostitutes. Note that this female voice (qedeshá) became translated simply as female prostitute.
So really the קָדֵשׁ (Kadesh) nor were homosexuals or gays or people of Sodom, but simply sacred prostitutes; another small translation error, in this case, is repeated again and again in the Old Testament, and which served to point out and condemn gays for over a millennium.
From the sacred to the profane.
But there is more, the word sodomite not only came to replace the Hebrew term קָדֵשׁ (qadesh) but in the New Testament, was also used to translate the Greek word ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai). A term that appears only twice, both by the hand of the apostle St. Paul in his epistles to the Corinthians and Timothy.
These are for intolerant christians the strongest evidence of the unequivocal rejection of gays, and not of the vengeful god, and in some extent cruel, of the jewish Old Testament, but also the kind and merciful god of the christian New Testament. A refusal which carries the maximum sentence, to be set apart from the kingdom of god.
Corinthians 6.9-10: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [μαλακοῖς (malakois)], nor homosexuals [ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai)]” (New American Standard Bible)
St. Paul, Malakois and Arsenokoitai
After reading this should be no doubt about what god thinks, but to give greater emphasis to this conviction, in most modern translations the word sodomite appears next to the term effeminate. A somewhat free interpretation of the Greek word μαλακοῖς (malakois), which literally means deadbeat or weak, but in a moral context means licentious or dissolute. Even St. Augustine saw this word a reference to masturbation.
But back to the translation of ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai) by sodomite, Is this a correct translation? What is its original meaning? No one really knows exactly, because this Greek term appears first time in the New Testament, as we have said, from the hand of Paul. Literally means “male bed” or “male to take you to bed”, and it is thought that Paul (or whoever) created this neologism to avoid the use of the Greek term hierodule (ἱερόδουλος), to strip of any sacred function ἱερό (the sacred) to these pagan practices of temple prostitution.
This would explain also why the author does not use common expressions in Greece to point to “homosexuals”. That is, terms like palakós, kinaidos, paiderastes, arrenomanes or paidophthoros. Having so much to choose, why invent a new word? We may never know for sure the answer, nor know who he was referring to specifically, but made freely translated, why not convert the word ἀρσενοκοῖται (arsenokoitai) in sodomite and later in homosexual? Who do can bother or disturb?
With this, more or less, conclude the direct references to homosexuals in the Bible. There is no more. Although it may seem surprising, all or most modern biblical homophobic construction is based on the translation of four very concrete terms. 4 simple words.
Homosexuality does not exist then.
With this I do not mean that the bible or the christian god look favorably homosexuals or homosexual behavior (allah save me), but simply that do not exist any type of defined statement about a reality that was nonexistent or irrelevant throughout the thousand years that the various books of the bible were written. Homosexuals as we understand it today did not exist and therefore god could not condemn them.
Pagan rituals and sexual mores
As a general rule interpretations made about homosexuality in the Old and New Testament are not such, but usually refer to the pre-christian pagan rites and Greco-Roman sexual mores, including the sexual abuse of minors aged slaves and ritual prostitution. The rest, are interpretations that can only be understood in the context, not of those who wrote in Aramaic, Greek or Hebrew the original texts, but from those who over the last nearly 2,000 years translated and interpreted “the word of god”.
So if someone, at some point, lift his finger pointing and saying that you shall burn in hell or that God hates you and will punish you, ask him what version of the Bible says that.
For me, and I guess for many like me, consider the own life based on what thought and believed some caregivers of goats 2500 years ago, has very little sense, however is always interesting understand how we got where we are, and without knowing and understanding the bible and its surroundings, it would be quite complicated.
However there is hope. Recently it launched in the US the new Queen James version of the bible, which seeks to avoid all these little “flaws”.
“Praise be to Google, through their searches will find the truth. Amen.”
Recommended links: - I love Sodom - I Survived Sodom